Following prices of reel-to-reels

Submitted by lemon session on Sat, 11/26/2011 - 08:52

I'm re-starting this thread because I'm a newbie to this forum and didn't realize my previous post could taken as spam. Admittedly it was some pretty blatant gushing for two businesses, but I really was just trying to supply the info I had.

So, with that being said (and with the emphasis on the fact that this is NOT SPAM), here's my post again:

It's not perfect and it could be updated more, but one site to go to for some great info about reel-to-reels is

I learned a lot from what he's written, but I have to disagree for his complete disregard for Tascam reel-to-reels. Unlike Fostex (don't buy Fostex!), Tascam has a great repair/parts department -- though not all replacement parts for every model continue are kept in stock, the repair staff are accessible and knowledgeable. Before you buy a Tascam machine that the seller tells you has "___ wrong with it," call (323) 727-4840 during their hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Pacific)).

Anyway, let's get this thread going with a little copy and paste from Analog Rules Sales page ([[url=http://[/URL]=""]AnalogRules - street Market Sales Prices: Analogue Recorders, Ampex, MCI, Studer, Otari, and others...[/]=""]AnalogRules - street Market Sales Prices: Analogue Recorders, Ampex, MCI, Studer, Otari, and others...[/]):

**MCI JH 24 24 track
Good condition - I saw this machines myself
sold for $ 2,000 Ok deal

Otari MX80 24 track
Newly relapped heads - but needed a new pinch roller
and has one bad Audio card
Bought for $ 2,200 So-So deal

Ampex ATR 104 Four Track 1/2 inch
with extra 1/4 inch two track headstack and guides
Buyer says it's in fine condition
Bought for $ 900.00 great price - great deal

MCI JH-24 24 track - in good condition
Buyer says it was fully recapped and has no dreaded 'Red Sockets'
Bought for $ 2,000 good deal

Otari MTR 90 mkII 24 track
with Remote and Autolocator
Fair condition, needs some work
Bought for $ 1,500 good deal

Studer A-827 24 track good condition
with Remote and Autolocator
Bought for $ 5,000 good deal !

Ampex 440B 1/2 inch 2 track with Flux Magnetics heads
Very Good condition says buyer bought for $600

Studer A-810 1/4 inch two track
great condition, like new... $850

MCI JH110C 1 inch 8 track
Good condition - was given away for FREE !!!!
to current user.... GREAT DEAL

Ampex ATR 102 half-inch 2 track
Good condition $2,500
Very good deal !

Studer A-827 24 TRACK, well worn but good running condition
only $ 2,700 on eBay GREAT DEAL !!!
With Autolocator, remote, remote stand, everything...

Ampex ATR 102 quarter-inch in near unused condition
Buyer says it's got a new Capstan, nearly new heads.
Bought in Canada for $ 350 US dollars !! Wow ! GREAT DEAL !!!!

Ampex ATR 102 quarter inch in fair condition
Buyer says it's worn but good condition
Bought for $ 2,300

Otari 5050 2 track
Buyer says it's in good condition, needed some cleaning.
$50.00 !!! very good deal!!

Otari MX-70 one inch 8 track
Buyer says in near 'mint' condition, low hours
Bought in Spain for 400 Euros (about $500 us) Good deal !

Studer A-827 24 track
Good condition deck with new Pinch Roller
$ 5,500 good deal !

Ampex MM1200 24 track
Head life about 60% no remote
Audio Caps replaced recently. $ 2,500 very good deal

Ampex MM 1000 16 track
75% head life left on heads !!
No remote, good condition says buyer
came with an extra 1 inch 8 track headstack, plus extra parts
$ 800
**(All info from 2011)*

ALSO: I sold a Otari MX5050 BII for $350 back in April of 2011

Yeah, unfortunately, most of the big multitracked machines can be had quite cheaply today. You have to price them around the same price you pay for a HD 24 from ALESIS. That's because, most " local bands" can't afford the cost of multitrack tape of the 2 inch variety. I mean they're already paying $250 for their demo recording so why would they want to spend $500 on tape? And you'd want to record them at 30 IPS instead of 15 IPS because you wanted the utmost in "transparent clarity" right? Because 15 IPS is too low in definition and quality for professional results. That's all BS you know. But even at 15 IPS, 1/2 hour doesn't make for a full CD from a single reel of tape. When a single reel of tape costs as much as 3 terabytes worth of hard disk drives, you have to be wealthy or a wealthy purist because just being a purist doesn't financially qualify you. My personal 2 track Scully 280 B was $2500 when I got it new in 1980. But hey, a pancake 10 inch reel of 1/4 inch tape was only around $10. So we all purchased them by the carton load. I used to revel in the beautiful blue, red, gold anodized 2 inch Quadra Plex videotape reels when they were discarded. OK some segmented helical scan 2 inch tapes as well which actually worked slightly better for audio. Trying to record audio on Quadra Plex 2 inch wide videotape was dismal sounding at best. And that's because the iron oxide particles were applied vertically instead of horizontally or at an angle for the IVC 9000 series of segmented helical scan studio video recorders. All recording tape iron oxide particles for audio purposes are applied horizontally along the tape. So if you get a batch of 2 inch Quadra Plex videotape, you'll be fascinated at how awful this stuff will sound & work on a 16 or 24 track audio recorder. Sure, with Quadra Plex & segmented helical scan video recorders, the audio was still recorded with an analog longitudinal recording head. While they could obtain flat response, it was never high quality sounding magnetic audio tape. You also had to run at standard operating levels of 185 nano webers causing way more noise. It also did not saturate very well and included plenty of print through since there was no back coating on most of this stuff.

I think really most people only need a single reel of 2 inch tape to go with their 16 and/or 24 track recorder's. The only reason you want the analog recorders for is that fabulous nonlinear quality in and limiting like saturation. So when the band is tracking, you roll 24 track record in repro mode, straight into the analog inputs of your multitrack hard disk-based recorder. No stupid expensive interlock/synchronization gizmo is necessary & no print through, 1/2 the wow & flutter, no fake expensive emulator plug-ins. Then you overdub in digital, seedbed digital track after completion into the analog machine input. Roll record in repro and TrackBack into the digital machine. Now doing this, will allow you to vary your saturation but will also be 80-110 ms late. This huge delay is nowhere near in sync with anything else. No problemo, you just slide it in the timeline in software to resynchronize. So you never want to record something on the analog machine, only to rewind the tape and play it back. You'll never hold synchronization perfectly that way. You could if you reserved 4 tracks for SMPTE style synchronization with proper guard bands in place, 2 tracks on each machine. That's not practical anymore. And that's because if you record the output of the analog multitrack machine while it's recording, there is nothing to synchronize except perhaps a timeline in the software.

So I have, Scully-280's, Ampex-AG 354, TEAC-3340's, Sony's, OTARI-50/50's for sale if anybody's interested? All affordable 1/4 inch varieties. So I'm accepting offers currently from my friends here at PM me if anyone is interested.

Analog tape fiend
Mx. Remy Ann David

As always, Remy has NAILED it! I couldn't agree more about the use for analog tape these days. (There's a system called "CLASP" that does exactly what she's describing, from Endless Analog. Read more about it here: [[url=http://[/URL]=""]WHAT IS THE CLASP? « Endless Analog[/]=""]WHAT IS THE CLASP? « Endless Analog[/] ) I wouldn't, however, have any other use for it other than an effect for certain tracks.

I'm not dismissing the pursuit of knowledge surrounding analog tape machines; they were WONDERFUL in their day and time. EVERYONE should have some experience with the medium, for no other reason than to know the history of recording and what we're going for when making good recordings. Their sound was like no other and still holds up today, IF you can afford the system & time/effort it takes to make it work properly. If you want to buy one and do some work with them; GREAT! Like Remy, I grew up with Analog tape, but unlike many others, I ain't never going back.

Really, it was a great medium when everything in the chain worked properly; S/N level, reel tension, tape path & head condition (azimuth & wrap alignment, etc), bias, record & repro alignment, alignment tapes, and on and on. Literally, every recording you hear from before 1985-1990 or thereabouts was entirely analog tape. But so much of it is romantized, it's just not worth the hassle for what many of us are still trying to do: Make a living in the recording biz. The time, maintenance and overall cost has rendered it moot, IMHO. It's great for certain effects, but will kill you in other areas; namely cost, then dropouts, lost top end, etc etc. (And as Remy mentioned, the cost of a reel of tape was often the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots in those days.) With the razor-thin line of profitability in today's recording biz, you can lose all of your profitability in maintenance costs alone.

Don't mean to be negative, it's just how the world is today; a 2terrabyte hard drive can be had for about $100 (and probably less by the time you read this). That's DAYS of recording on 8, 16 or 24 tracks at 24/44k vs. 10 or 20 minutes of 24 tracks for $200. (Which is what I recall a 2" reel of Ampex 456 was going for, the last time I had to buy some....) And the "maintenance" required on a typical DAW (beyond regular software updates, etc.) is pretty much zilch.

It's like steam trains vs. smart cars. Which one will get the job done the best, and which one will you use to get to work? I love steam trains, but I can't afford the time & cost of getting to the nearest one, and the tracks don't go to where I work. But I still visit train museums and shops, read books about 'em, and watch them roll by at special events. Like analog tape, there's no danger of them ever really going away, someone (like model railroad engineers) will always want to restore/rebuild/refurbish one and make 'em work. And that means "I" don't have to worry about 'em going away, either! I still have model trains and analog tape machines in my basement, but they're hobbies now, for better or worse.

Rollin' down the tracks, one way or another....

Really where the magic lies in analog tape, is mostly for drum tracks. You really don't want to push voices into saturation nor a Symphony Orchestra. But that limiting saturation for drums was one of the key ingredients to great drum recordings. So generally, one need not bother with much more than a 8-track machine while tracking drums. While at the same time the headphones feeds to the band tracking will be direct from the console via cue sends.

While many of us were meeter bangers on the analog multitrack machine recording drums, not all meters were banging. There is no need to spend boo coo Dinero on synchronizers to lock your ProTools to your 24 track machines. But a sucker is born every second so... you can impress a lot of people with BS.

I liked saturating some drum tracks at both 15 IPS & 30 IPS which both sound different. But 15 IPS was probably the most popular due to its more widespread adoption. And, emulators are just emulators. Plug-ins to me can be totally wonderful for what they can do. But many plug-ins are merely like imitations/reproductions of van Gogh's, Picasso's, Rembrandt's. They look nice but you know they're not real. I still like to utilize real things. We can still achieve musical sounding saturation through the use of particular pieces of equipment. For most people, tubes provide a nonlinear class A saturation rich in musically related even harmonics such as second harmonics. Transistors are also capable of this feat in different sounding ways. And really good Transformers can also provide certain types of saturation, when slightly overdriven beyond their rated tolerances. So I get a more contemporary saturation sound which I think still beats the pants off of any transformer less yada yada. It's still all based upon what kind of sound you think best to produce.

Currently, I believe I'm going to install my virtually new 1979 Scully 4 track, 1/2 inch machine into my truck. I haven't had an analog machine in here since 1993 when I sold my last MM 1200-24 Ampex. And it's really all because I really do miss that saturation on snare drums, bass drums, toms. Screw the overheads, I'll keep those cleaning with direct to digital. Interestingly enough, when you go to align/synchronize the drum tracks to the overheads, you'll suddenly realize what kind of time delay tricks you can marvel at. If the drums lead the overheads in time, you'll get an extremely aggressive sound. Whereas if the drums are slightly retarded, the whole feel will go to a more laid-back impression. This will provide you with new and different ways to evaluate your releases. Just a few samples to a couple of milliseconds can make all the difference in the world. Not everything should be perfectly aligned in time unless you feel it necessary.

I came from the future through the past
Mx. Remy Ann David